There Have Been Four Different Budgets Unveiled So Far — These Charts Will Show You How They're Different

paul ryan patty murray

Over the next several months, Congress will be embroiled in a political fight over the future of the United States government.

So far, there have been four major budgets released. There’s the conservative Republican Study Committee budget, the official House GOP Ryan budget, the official Senate Democratic budget and the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus budget.

It’s a lot to keep track of.

These four documents cover very nearly the entire political spectrum. On Wednesday the President will release his budget, a document that has already whipped up controversy on both sides of the aisle

Here, we compare each of the budgets against the Congressional Budget Office baseline, the funding levels that are currently the law. 

In each of these charts, the zero line is the current budget path. When the lines dip below zero, that means that the budget in question spends less, when the lines go above zero that means the government spends more than it normally would on that budget line. 

All numbers are expressed in billions of dollars. 

Here’s the chart of total outlays of the budget. Observe how every budget except the Ryan budget initially spends more than normal in the initial year 2014, but eventually spends less than normal at various points down the line:

Walter Hickey/BINext is the chart of revenues. The Republican Study Committee budget cuts taxes, the Ryan budget keep taxes at their current rate, Senate Democrat budget raises revenues gradually over the next decade, and the CPC budget taxes significantly less over FY 2014 and 2015, then significantly more starting in FY 2016:

Walter Hickey/BIThe RSC budget cuts the most from the discretionary budget immediately, and the Ryan budget also cuts from the government early as well. The Senate Democrat budget increases discretionary spending in 2014 and 2015, then begins cutting in 2016. The CPC budget — which includes an initial stimulus package — increases discretionary spending initially, then eventually decreases it:

Walter Hickey/BIHere, we break down the defence discretionary budget. Interestingly enough, every single budget is in agreement that the military budget should be cut:

Walter Hickey/BIThe exact opposite is seen with the Non-defence discretionary budget. The RSC slashes the non-defence discretionary budget, and the Ryan budget makes steeper cuts to this line than defence. The Senate Democrat budget increases, then decreases discretionary spending. The Congressional Progressive budget increases the annual funding by between $100 billion and $150 billion annually. 

Walter Hickey/BIThis chart is one of the most interesting, but also potentially one of the most misleading. While both the Ryan budget and the Congressional Progressive Caucus budget leave Social Security unchanged for the next decade, the Ryan fix to Social Security take place just outside of this window. In 2024, the Ryan budget would implement means-testing and privatization to Social Security:

Walter Hickey/BIHere’s what would happen to projected net interest payments over the next 10 years. Plans that cut the budget faster pay less in interest:

Walter Hickey/BIThis chart can be somewhat misleading. After three years, the RSC budget hits a surplus. After 10 years, the Ryan budget hits a surplus. However, within two years, every single budget proposal is doing better than the CBO baseline budget. 

Walter Hickey/BIThe budgets each have different aims when it comes to handling the immediate burden of the national debt. The two GOP budgets want immediate reductions to the national debt, while the two Democrat budgets don’t pursue immediate returns.

Walter Hickey/BIDepending on what people want in a budget, these are the essentials of the plans. Still, they don’t tell the whole picture.

How cuts are achieved in each budget is contentious — steep cuts to the military in the CPC budget, discretionary cuts in the RSC budget, the Ryan Medicare plan or the various stimulus packages in each — and there’s a lot more to it than charts. 

Still, this is a good primer on what the dollars actually go to. 

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